Talk:Sino-Roman relations

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Former good article Sino-Roman relations was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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X-Y relations[edit]

There are many articles which follow the X-Y relations naming structure. As this is a more specific area than Sino-Roman relations shouldn't this article first be moved there and approprately expanded - once that article is saturated (broad and roughly 32kb) a new article under this title may be started (with the current content and more) on this specific area? --Oldak Quill 22:52, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Caspian castaways[edit]

The context claims these Indi as evidence for the Northeast Passage and the northward strait out of the Caspian Sea;

What does that mean? That there was a connection from the Caspian to the Arctic? --Error 9 July 2005 00:59 (UTC)

Most of the ancients believed there was such a passage, of those who thought about it at all. Septentrionalis 13:56, 27 July 2005 (UTC)
This article makes the case that they were actually Native Americans. Kuralyov 9 July 2005 01:07 (UTC)



This page appears to have been originally written using AD/BC (except perhaps for the mention of Augustus). It concerns no religious topic, and the labels are essential for clarity. Changing to CE/BCE is the abusive form of political correctness; please just leave things alone. Wikipedia is inconsistent. Septentrionalis 13:56, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

I don't know what article you're looking at, but this one was certainly started using BCE/CE, as can be seen quite clearly in the history [1]. It is User:Jguk who changed BCE/CE to BC/AD here [2]. Sortan 15:34, 27 July 2005 (UTC)
Sortan is a sockpuppet used to troll on this issue, as a check on his user contributions will prove. Please do not feed the trolls, jguk 17:30, 27 July 2005 (UTC)
He may be a sockpuppet, but he still seems to be right. Look at the page's history. (Or was it originally copied over from a different source?) — LlywelynII 03:02, 6 December 2013 (UTC)


I just reverted an edit by (Contributions) to return to the earlier dating style on this page.

Per the Manual of Style, "When either of two styles are acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change." Since there was no compelling reason for this change, I reverted it back and recommend review the MOS before making such changes in the future. *Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 18:29, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Quite so, but the original (and overall stable) usage of the page has been CE/BCE. Personally, I hate it, too, but that doesn't enter into it. — LlywelynII 03:02, 6 December 2013 (UTC)


Just to clarify the discussion above and the edit summaries that have been left before, the original usage of this page was established by this edit. That usage was BCE and CE and it should be maintained consistently pending a new consensus. — LlywelynII 03:02, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Embassies and Silk Route[edit]

Just in passing, the embassies to China merely claimed to be embassies from Rome. There is no evidence they were embassies from Rome. Anyone mind if I change it to make that clear? The Silk Road never existed and so should not be referred to quite so often. And while I am here there is no reason to think the Xiongnu are Huns. Anyone object to a few minor changes? Lao Wai 17:18, 10 August 2005 (UTC)

Roman soldiers in the East[edit]

This is a classic example of some reporters are trying to make some bread money.

The account of the so-called blue eye blond Roman legionary settled down in Northern China has been proved to be false. This report has been circulating on many Chinese newspapers in the last few years. The story was initially generated from a small village (Liqian) in Shanxi province. There’re many villagers who have some western facial characteristics such as blond hair and blue eyes. Some lousy reporters made a big deal out of it and fabricated a “Lost Roman Legion in China” story. But this story lacks many fundamental historical evidence to back it up and it is fatally flawed. According to the numerous well-known Chinese historians, the Liqian western looking villagers have absolutely no connection with Crassus' lost legion. Latin Romans rarely had blue eyes and blond hair anyway. This is more of a Barbarian character. The fish-scale formation was not adopted by Romans alone. The formation was used by many countries other than the Romans. It sounds so ridiculous that those reporters are trying to tie the name of Lixuan with Legio because the similarity on the pronunciation.

The bottom line is simple: both Parthians and Huns have their unique battle tactics which are almost opposite of Romans. Roman’s rely on their heavy infantry to fight set battles. However the eastern armys, like Parthian’s and Huns were calvary armies which were much more mobile. Very few Crassus' soldiers survived the battle of Carrhae, not to mention the extreme long and deadly expedition to the western border of Han Dynasty. It’s very doubtful that Parthians would’ve kept each surviving Roman century after their defeat. After all, preserving your captives’ ranks and units is like encouraging them to rebel. It’s even more doubtful the mobile Hun cavalry would adopt Roman heavy infantry battle scheme to fight Han cavalry. The fantasy story of Roman legions showing up on the river bank of Yellow river in their full segamentatas and red tunics and ready to battle the Han army is as laughable as “Alien vs. Predator”.

Romans and Ancient Greeks were known to be blond and blue eyed. Only after centuries of Asian and African intermarriage do Italians and Greeks look they way they do now. There is nothing inconsistent with the Romans in Liqian being blond and blue eyed. Also, the foundation ruins and DNA tests have also proven Roman links.

- Mediterranean people (especially ancient Greek and Roman) used to have blonde hair and blue eyes until the Moors got into Europe. Only then the Italians, Spanish and Greeks adopted those facial characteristics.

Romans and ancient Greeks were not known to be blond and blue eyed. In fact Romans specifically commented on the Gauls and Germans for being blond and blue eyed. Moreover the number of Arabs who invaded the Middle East was small. The majority of what we now call Arabs are probably locals who have become Muslims and Arabic-speaking - Greeks and Romans in fact. Greece and Rome both got heavy influxes of northerners - Germans in Italy, Slavs in Greece - so they may be more blond and blue eyed than they were. There is precisely no reason to think any Romans who may have made it to China were blond - you can start by finding out where this alleged unit was stationed as they recuited locally. Given their involvement in Persia, they were probably all Syrian anyway. What DNA tests? Lao Wai 10:11, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

To return to the subject once more, the sources that are provided, if read properly, do not prove what the article was claiming. Let me quote from :

In 1955, Homer Hasenflug Dubs, professor of Chinese history at Oxford University, surmised that some of the 10,000 Roman prisoners taken by the Parthians after the battle of Carrhae in southeastern Turkey in 53 BC made their way east to today's Uzbekistan and later enlisted with the Hun chieftain Jzh Jzh against the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).
Dubs derived his speculation from ancient Chinese Han Dynasty history annals, which described a battle between the Han empire and Jzh Jzh in western China.
The annals noted that about 150 men from Jzh Jzh's army took up a "fish-scale formation," which Dubs surmised to have been the Roman testudo formation.
Dubs then asserted that these men, captured by the Chinese, then settled and built their own town called Liqian (Li-chien) the Chinese transliteration of "Alexandria."

Thus the Han Shu says nothing of relevance - just that 150 men fighting in a Fish-scale formation, whatever that is, were captured. Dubs made the rest up. From :

This idea was first proposed by Homer Hasenphlug Dubs, an Oxford University professor of Chinese history, who speculated in 1955 that some of the 10,000 Roman prisoners taken by the Parthians after the battle of Carrhae in southeastern Turkey in 53 B.C. made their way east to Uzbekistan to enlist with Jzh Jzh against the Han. Chinese accounts of the battle, in which Jzh Jzh was decapitated and his army defeated, note unusual military formations and the use of wooden fortifications foreign to the nomadic Huns. Dubs postulated that after the battle the Chinese employed the Roman mercenaries as border guards, settling them in Liqian, a short form of Alexandria used by the Chinese to denote Rome. While some Chinese scholars have been critical of Dubs' hypothesis, others went so far as to identify Lou Zhuangzi as the probable location of Liqian in the late 1980s.
Ten years later, still no academic papers have been published on the subject, and no archaeological investigation has been conducted in Lou Zhuangzi', but the media and local government remain unfazed. County officials, sensing potential tourist revenue, have erected a Doric pavilion in Lou Zhuangzi, while the county capital of Yongchang has decorated its main thoroughfare with enormous statues of a Roman soldier and a Roman woman flanking a Communist party official.

Need I go on? No blond Roman soldiers, no Roman soldiers at all in fact, just the claim of one academic. Lao Wai 09:27, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

It's true that the Romans do seem to have been generally dark-haired and swarthy (as shown on mosaics and paintings). However, there were units of Gallic cavalry accompanying Crassus, who would have been blue-eyed and blond.
More than that, Cisalpine Gaul was a major recruiting center in this period, populated by Romanized Gauls.


I found a quote on another website that linked to this Wikipedia page, reading:

As for the king, he is not a permanent figure but is chosen as the man most worthy… The people in this country are tall and regularly featured. They resemble the Chinese, and that is why the country is called Da Qin (The "Great" Qin)… The soil produced lots of gold, silver and rare jewels, including the jewel which shines at night… they sew embroidered tissues with gold threads to form tapestries and damask of many colours, and make a gold-painted cloth, and a "cloth washed-in-the-fire" (asbestos)

Could anyone tell me where this came from so I can see the rest of it? KongminRegent 22:50, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

You can find the whole account in the paragraphs on Da Qin in [3]. Regards PHG 23:47, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Ban Chao in Parthia[edit]

"The Chinese army made an alliance with the Parthians and established some forts at a distance of a few days march from the Parthian capital Ctesiphon and held the region for several years. In 116, after the conquest of Dacia's gold and silver mines in year 106, the Roman Emperor Trajan advanced into Parthia to Ctesiphon and came within one day's march of the Chinese border garrisons, but direct contacts never took place."

I rode all the sources about the parthian empire, the campaigns of Ban Chao and the campaign of Trajan at 117, and there aren't any evidence about garrisons near Ctesiphon or Ban Chao army into parthian empire. So in few time i will correct it. -Fco

I think I wrote this part, and took it from one of my history books. Unfortunately I did not take the reference at the time, so I'll have to look for it again. Normally you could add a {{Fact}} tag without deleting, until I can find again my source. Regards. PHG 20:32, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, now i can't see that portion of the text althought i didn't change it. -Fco


I removed some lines about Alexander for two particular reasons: 1. theories cannot be utilized as historical evidence. For example, there is no proof to demonstrate that the Romans utilized the Greek road to go to India (and later China.) 2. The article is Sino-Roman relations, not Sino-Graeco relations. The latter needs a separate article.

Lao Wai, about the theory of the Roman soldiers in the east, read this:

"The development and wide application of DNA technologies have opened a new approach for researchers like Xie, who are bent on unraveling the mystery.

DNA lends a hand

However, Xie and his colleagues are encountering tremendous complexities.

The area where Yongchang is located was a trade hub along the ancient Silk Road, where people of various ethnicities from as far as the Mediterranean came and went, Xie said.

Moreover, soldiers in the Roman legions were supposed to consist of peoples of different ethnic and national backgrounds.

Because the Roman Empire was at that time at the height of its power and splendor, it had conquered many countries and regions across Europe, Africa and West Asia, he added.

According to Zhou Ruixia, Xie's assistant, they will build up the genetic data from the local villagers with Caucasian features and compare the data with those of European as well as Western, Central and East Asians.

They will report their research results in academic journals in the United States or Britain.

Two years ago, Ma Runlin, a bio-chemist based in Beijing, also collected blood samples from Yongchang people for DNA analysis.

However, he has not finished his research yet.

In an e-mail to China Daily, Ma said he is collaborating with British researchers in the genetic study of the villagers' ancestry.

He does not know when he will finish the research.

"I have backache. I needed to input 1,000 lines of data with 16 numbers in each line yesterday ... We're doing the experiments at the fastest speed we can," the 26-year-old said. "Please don't push me any more."

Source: China Daily, 2005. 2005-08-24 14:03:49"

So, before saying "no Roman soldiers at all in fact", we must wait for a DNA test.

Jack 23:46, 17 January 2007 (UTC)



I noticed this:

"The Roman mission came from the south (therefore probably by sea), entering China by the frontier of Jinan or Tonkin."

What is being referred to here as "Jinan", anyway? The Chinese city, or the South Korean one? I'd vouch for the former, since the Romans did not know of the existence of Korea, nor did they know about the Pacific Ocean in the slightest and had no interest in finding out. 21:44, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Jinan is the Han dynasty name for the part of modern northern Vietnam the Han ruled. As they also ruled Korea. So Jinan is usually referred to as Tongking these days. At least in French and hence English. Obviously (Eastern Capital) it was not called that under the Han. Lao Wai 11:53, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Then why differentiate between the two if both are identical? 04:39, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't know what the original writer had in mind but I assume the intention was to say something like "Dacia, or modern Romania,...." So the Han referred to it as Jinan, but modern Vietnamese call it something else - although most of the world calls it Tongking which is just silly. Lao Wai 08:22, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
Tonkin is named for Hanoi, which was called in Vietnamese Đông Kinh, meaning "eastern capital" (Like how Beijing in China means "Northern Capital".). Also, the Vietnamese name Bắc Kỳ, or "northern region". See the link. 01:20, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Roman coins in North Vietnam[edit]

I made a small edit to the following passage ({{ref}} -> {{fact}}) because the old template didn't seem to fit this context -- "eventually hundreds of Roman coins were discovered in North Vietnam in the 70s". J. Innes Miller notes that a "copper coin of the Roman Emperor Maximius (253-8) was found in the district of My-Tho in southern Vietnam" (The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969], p. 240), so this statement is not as improbable as it might seem at first glance. -- llywrch 22:42, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Not Romans, but Yuezhi[edit]

Indeed, the Roman Legionaries where people of Mediteranean stock, most of them dark haired and brown eyed. During the time of the Carrhae Battle, the Roman Army had very few Gauls or central European recruits, so there is relative few chances to have blue eyed blonds among the Roman Legionaries at that time. It is more probable that the villagers from this remote area of contemporary China are inheriting the European racial features from the Yuezhi tribes which are well recorded Indo-European people, libing for centuries along the western frontier of Chinese Empire.

Need more Details[edit]

What did the romans learn about china from the first embassy and how did they communicate with the chinese to trade? the linguistic differences between latin and chinese are staggering. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:16, 7 October 2007 (UTC)


The page on Roman Commerce says in regards to trade with China:

["The Hou Hanshu (History of the Later Han Chinese dynasty) recounted the first of several Roman embassies to China sent out by a Roman Emperor, probably Marcus Aurelius judging by the arrival date of 166 (Antoninus Pius is another possibility, but he died in 161. The confusion arises because Marcus Aurelius took the names of his predecessor as additional names, as a mark of respect and so is referred to in Chinese history as "An Tun", i.e. "Antoninus"). The mission came from the South, and therefore probably by sea, entering China by the frontier of Jinan or Tonkin. It brought presents of rhinoceros horns, ivory, and tortoise shell which had probably been acquired in Southern Asia.

The mission reached the Chinese capital of Luoyang in 166 and was met by Emperor Huan of the Han Dynasty. About the same time, and possibly through this embassy, the Chinese acquired a treatise of astronomy from Daqin (Rome).

However, in the absence of any record of this on the Roman side of the silk road, it may be that the "ambassadors" were in reality free traders acting independently of Aurelius.

From the 3rd century we have a Chinese text, the Weilue, describing the products of the Roman Empire and the routes to it. [1]

Yet here on this article we have talk of Romans happily wondering about in Chinese cities mixing with the local populace to produce blonde blue-eyed Chinese children, its amazing how the Mediterraneans are so much like the Nordics. I don't know who or what to believe but logic tells me that 1) Rome didn't have any great relations with China to be worthy of a page, 2) any Westerners they did happen to meet weren't Romans or acting on behalf of the emperor 3) We have nothing to go on from the Roman prospective about this 4) We all like far fetched stories about how the Egyptians salied to the Americas to teach the Aztecs to build pyramids and how Altantis really existed etc but its probably false. This page in my opinion is fantastical, untill I see any book written about this page I refuse to believe it and will try and get it deleted. Smarred Wolet (talk) 12:50, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

"Fish-Scale Formation"[edit]

It would Seem much more likely that the soldiers using the "fish scale formation" mentioned by the Chinese are much more likely to be Baktrian Greeks (or possibly Indo-Greeks) utiliziing a Phalanx than Romans utilizing a Testudo. (talk) 22:33, 17 July 2008 (UTC) Alex8876

"One of the external links is defunct"[edit]

My apologies if this is the wrong place to note this - this is my first contribution. I followed the link to the silk road site and discovered that it is no more and the domain name is up for sale. I don't know if I may just delete the link? --MuireannMc (talk) 21:13, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Outflow: gold? or silver[edit]

"the importation of Chinese silk caused a huge outflow of gold" Perhaps. Or of silver, the usual metal sought abroad by the Chinese. Perhaps a citation would better support this statement. --Wetman 19:37, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Yü Ying-Shih (1986, "Han Foreign Relations" in Cambridge History of China, Cambridge University Press) heavily doubts this and the common mythos that any significant amount of Roman silver or gold traveled east in exchange for silk, although he admits that there was obviously some silk that reached the Roman world and Roman items that obviously reached China. I can get you a quote if you like.--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:58, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Coin of the Roman emperor Augustus found at the Pudukottai hoard, India. British Museum.

Pliny the Elder wrote: "By the lowest reckoning, India, China [Seres] and the Arabian peninsula take from our Empire 100 million sesterces every year: that is how much our luxuries and women cost us." Pliny the Elder, Natural History 12.84 [4]. I am not sure if Roman gold coins have been found in China, but many have been unearthed in India [5]. See also Roman trade with India. Pliny may only have referred to the value of the trade though, rather than an actual number of coins [6]. Phg (talk) 05:15, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Recent finds[edit]

I found this blurb in the latest issue of Archaeology (magazine). The item is just a basic announcement, so if anyone has any details, it would certainly make this article a little more interesting since we would get away from the high level relations and focus on the organic flow of people: "Think of it as early globalization. DNA from remains in a 2,000-year-old Xiongnu Empire (209 B.C.–A.D. 93) grave show that its occupant had European or western Asian genes. The structure and location of the tomb suggest that he was friendly with the elites of what is considered a linguistically and ethnically diverse empire. Meanwhile, mitochondrial DNA from bones around the same age, found at Vagnari in southern Italy, indicate that their owner was of East Asian descent, possibly a worker or slave in the Roman Empire." Found at Hiberniantears (talk) 16:40, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

The Xiongnu could have had Tocharian ancestry. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:41, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Romano-Chinese relations/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

I tried to improve the article in the recent past by rewriting the lead and removing only very vaguely related material (usually falling short of the Chinese sphere's borders by many hundreds of kilometers) which tended to dominate the article, but I feel it is still far from enough.

The core section Indirect trade relations relies overly on direct quotations without ever realizing that "Seres" cannot be easily equated with "Chinese" in Roman sources. The fuzziness of mutual knowledge and the mythological connotations which pervades the few accounts on both sides are underplayed or completely ignored.

The second main topic Embassies and travels does not fall in the pseudo-objective trap of letting speak the sources without interpretation, but here the reference die out almost completely. If the primary sources were moved to Wikisource, the article as it stands would retain little in the way of hard, reliable information; a major overhaul is required to keep the status. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:16, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

  • Yawn*. Notified the top contributors. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 09:50, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
Have just received notice of this possible reassessment tonight. Will try to have a proper look at it and make changes wherever necessary over the next few days. Have just made one minor improvement tonight. John Hill (talk) 12:05, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
I'll have a look at it too, and see what reliable secondary sources I can gather to confirm (or provide analysis on) primary sources.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:22, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Some of you here may find this useful: these are some notes I've taken from Yü Ying-shih (1986), paraphrasing his work:

  • Page 460-461: Yu says that the Book of Later Han says emissaries from beyond Rinan claimed to come from Daqin, ruled by Andun, and brought gifts of ivory, rhinoceros horn, and tortoise shells. Yu says they may have been from the Roman Empire and Andun could be interpreted as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, but nothing is confirmed. The Chinese had ventured into Central Asia ever since the travels of Zhang Qian and discovered lands as far west as Anxi (Parthia), which was Parthia. The Book of Later Han says that the Parthians were determined from keeping the Chinese from traveling to Rome, and prevented Gan Ying from doing so in 97 AD when sent by Ban Chao. It is known that Chinese silk reached the Roman world while Roman objects of ornaments and precious metals reached China.
  • Page 461-462: However, Dr. Manfred Rashke argues that there is no surmountable evidence to suggest that the Han upheld a large export trade of silk and that Roman funds were not drained away by purchasing Chinese silk to the extent that some scholars have asserted.

I hope that these notes are of some help. I shall try to gather more soon.

Full reference: Yü, Ying-shih. (1986). "Han Foreign Relations," in The Cambridge History of China: Volume I: the Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 B.C. – A.D. 220, pp. 377-462. Edited by Denis Twitchett and Michael Loewe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521243270.--Pericles of AthensTalk 23:36, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Crespigny (2007) provides more analysis:

  • Page 600: QUOTE: "Most spectacularly, it is recorded that a mission from Daqin 大秦, identified as the empire of Rome, came to Luoyang from the south in 166. The envoys claimed that they had been sent by their king Andun [?][?], presumably the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus [reg. 161–180], and the gifts they brought, including ivory, rhinoceros horn and tortoise shell, had evidently been gathered on their journey. There was and still is some suspicion that these men were enterprising traders rather than accredited officials, but their visit provided valuable prestige to the emperor at a time of political difficulty. [It may be only chance, but the date of this visit coincided with the outbreak of the Antonine plague which ravaged the Roman empire from the middle 160s: the question of epidemics is discussed in the entry for Liu Hong, Emperor Ling.]"

Full reference: de Crespigny, Rafe. (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23-220 AD). Leiden: Koninklijke Brill. ISBN 9004156054.--Pericles of AthensTalk 23:41, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

So far I can't find anything in my notes for the Seres in particular, but I will continue to look.--Pericles of AthensTalk 23:44, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
While I was working on my book, Through the Jade Gate to Rome, I made a careful study of the report on envoys from Da Qin to China over many years, not only of the text itself, but of everything written about it (including all the quotes above). My conclusions are that there can be little if any doubt that, a) Da Qin refers to the Roman Empire, and b) there is no question that the Chinese believed the people arriving in 166 CE were legitimate envoys from Da Qin. The way the text reads it is (I believe clear) that the question was rather that, if the envoys arrived with reasonably common trade goods, maybe the earlier (and probably somewhat fanciful) reports the Chinese had had of Da Qin had been exagerrated.
I believe the confusion amongst several Western scholars as to whether the visitors were indeed genuine envoys, or just merchants making that claim, can be traced to an unfortunate misreading by Édouard Chavannes in his pioneering translation of the passage in: "Les pays d’Occident d’après le Heou Han chou." T’oung pao 8, (1907) p. 185 and n.1, which was then repeated by others who followed him.
The Chinese text reads: " 至桓帝延熹九年,大秦王安敦遣使自日南徼外獻象牙﹑犀角﹑瑇 瑁,始乃一通焉。其所表貢,並無珍異,疑傳者過焉。"
My translation of this passage (which has been checked for accuracy by a number of Chinese scholars) reads:
"In the ninth Yanxi year [166 CE], during the reign of Emperor Huan, the king of Da Qin [the Roman Empire], Andun [Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, r. 161-180], sent envoys from beyond the frontiers through Rinan [Commandery on the central Vietnamese coast], to offer elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, and turtle shell. This was the very first time there was [direct] communication [between the two countries]. The tribute brought was neither precious nor rare, therefore raising suspicions that the accounts [of Da Qin] might have been exaggerated." Hill (2009), p. 26.
For a detailed discussion of this passage, please see: Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes During the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. ("An Annotated translation of the Chronicle on the Western Regions in the Hou Hanshu"), (2009), pp. 289-296, n. 12.20, ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
As to the "Seres" mentioned in Western Classical literature - I think the evidence is very strong that these references were to middlemen in the silk trade (Khotanese? Sogdians? Yuezhi?), and not to the Chinese as such. Cheers, John Hill (talk) 11:05, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

I have cut back again some of the tone which gives a somewhat inflated importance to their contacts which you can count on one hand even after Yubitsume! What the reader should be given is the big picture, and this is that Romano-Chinese relationship was very close to non-existent; two-three encounters in as many centuries don't make a summer. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 01:41, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

This is unbelievable. It is like to cut back references about the Vikings in America because there it is only one "encounter" in Terranova...--2offadyke (talk) 02:57, 21 July 2010 (UTC)
If the article exaggerates the scope and intensity of contacts between the Vinkings and Indians like it tends to do here between Romans and Chinese: yes, certainly. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 10:30, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

The GA reassessment has been running now for six weeks, two of them in full. One of my three main concers was the overreliance on direct quotations in the core sections Trade relations and Embassies and travels. Since this issue has not been addressed, I am going to delist the article per Wikipedia:Quotations#Overusing quotations. Regards Gun Powder Ma (talk) 11:10, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Help please![edit]

Someone has added a huge amount of text as blockquotes into the Footnote section. While much of the information is of interest, this is no way to write an encyclopaedia. The worthwhile information in these blockquotes needs to be rewritten (and considerably shortened) and woven into the text. Unfortunately, I am too busy at the moment getting a book ready for publication to take on this major task. Is there anyone else who could take on this major task, please? Many thanks, John Hill (talk) 21:34, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

What is with the name of this article?[edit]

Why not Sino-Roman relations? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:32, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

That would make more sense. (talk) 16:59, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
In fact, that was exactly the original title. I've moved it back for various reasons:
  • because I could (heh),
  • to get a discussion going, should anyone object (in my experience, being WP:BOLD is really more effective than complaining on the talk page and doing nothing)
  • the rationale given by Gun Powder Ma for the move is insufficient: neither sequence logically implies anything, certainly not a particular perspective (and BTW, English is spoken as a native language all over the globe, and Hong Kong and Singapore are prominently English-speaking, too, so the English Wikipedia cannot be said to have a European/non-East-Asian-centred geographical point of view),
  • I think Romano-Chinese looks plainly ugly (why not Roman–Chinese, if you must?),
  • neither title is supported by refs, so it's unclear which one is more common. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 23:41, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
The only two embassies which established a direct contact between Rome and China were Roman, hence Romano-Chinese with the active force coming first. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 02:24, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
It is. Per common English usage, Romano- refers to (if anything) the gypsies ("Roma"). If it's not a completely WP:OR WP:NEOLOGISM, it's certainly uncommon and misleading enough that we should keep no truck with it. Per that plus the consensus here ("heh" not being especially convincing), I've restored the correct name. — LlywelynII 04:05, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
@GPM: You're not wrong either about the logical order or about what people are coming here to see. That said, you're still off on how we refer to things in English. When the other option is awkward sounding enough, we default to euphony. See: Sino-Japanese War, Sino-French War, Sino-American Relations, Sino-Tibetan languages... If you can bring in some WP:RS who do use this term, well, that's something... but I'd personally still oppose the Romano- anything on the grounds that it sounds so bad you're just forcing the page to endure an ongoing edit war as people correct it. Flor is right: the alt isn't Romano-, it's Roman–Chinese with an en dash. — LlywelynII 04:12, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Please point us to the rule that "Sino-" comes first by default. Isn't this a sinocentric rule? The Oxford Dictionary defines "Romano" as combined form for "Roman; Roman and ..." and Romano-British, Romano-Germanic and Romano-Gothic are all used in WP. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 15:10, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
The problem is that there is no "us": it's only you. Kindly knock off the WP:OWNERSHIP (however well-intended) and realize what the other editors' WP:CONSENSUS is here or provide support for your (obviously strongly contested) view that "Romano-Chinese" isn't just something you made up. Don't bring in bizarre charges of anti-Roman Empire racism into it. (In every case, the Romano- above refers to X people who have adopted Roman culture and practices. A "Romano-Chinese" would be a Chinese person living under Roman rule, not trade between these countries.)
Hm, I was going to help you out with some prelim searches, but they're so strongly against you I'll just start a move request. — LlywelynII 02:52, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Use plain English[edit]

I did some research on this question, and the best answer I can come up with is that China does not use "Sino" to refer to itself in those kinds of phrases (in English). Furthermore, it appears to me that the word "Sino" has long been obsolete in the Western world ("China" is the correct 21st century word in English), but it still gets used for whatever reason, perhaps in a similar deliberately-obfuscating fashion as legalese. I searched the Coin Compendium's database of modern Chinese coinage, and I couldn't find any "Sino-X friendship" coins that were called by those words by any official publication of the government of China. Instead what I found is only American numismatists use "Sino", and even then, they don't seem confident enough in that to avoid looking like they're just making it up arbitrarily, like here: Re: is this Sino Jap or Tokyo?.

I found one articularly important "friendship" coin and its COA, and the official text does not use the word "Sino" anywhere, in CCT1962: 1989 1/10 oz gold panda Sino-Japanese friendship You-You first birthday and Japan Heisei Era begins, and File:1390525857-7726.png: 1989 1/10 oz gold panda Sino-Japanese friendship You-You first birthday and Japan Heisei Era begins - Certificate, Screenshot. If I remember correctly, the entire idea of "Sino-this" and "Sino-that" in China's coinage is just an emergent series of coins recognized by coin collectors over the years, and the government of China never intentionally set out in the beginning to create such a series. With that fact noted, the Chinese-speaking collectors do not normally use the word "Sino" unless they're specifically reading an English label.

So, in short, I think there's a good case to be made for WP:UPE, and use "China" instead of "Sino"...sinus...wino...swino...winus...

Badon (talk) 01:48, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

For some more interesting background on this topic, CCT2514: 1973 silver Sino-British friendship was the first coin to be called "Sino-X friendship", but our research eventually got us photos of the original box and certificate of authenticity (COA), and even the original British English text does not use the word "Sino". Really, "Sino" seems out of fashion, and it's only being used in academic areas that are notorious for not being on the cutting edge of modernity (history and numismatics - more or less the same thing). Badon (talk) 02:17, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Move to Sino-Roman relations[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move per request as the more common name per evidence provided and as less ambiguous given other uses of Romano.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 16:25, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

Romano-Chinese relationsSino-Roman relations – Per WP:CONSENSUS as well as WP:USEENGLISH WP:COMMONNAME. This really should go without saying, but since a particular editor has objected very strongly over several years, let's run the numbers:

The page was established in 2005 as "Roman embassies to China". It was moved to "Sino-Roman relations" by the page creator the same year. In 2010, Gun Powder Ma arrived and converted the page to BC/AD from its original usage. He subsequently moved the page to "Romano-Chinese relations" without any discussion, calling it a "minor change", on the argument "our perspective". He has since repeatedly restored BC/AD dating and reverted other editors' restorations of the English name of the page without taking note of the discussion on the talk page, where three (now four) editors have objected and none have supported him.

At first glance, vanilla Google seems to leave them equivalent: 8.6k for "Romano-Chinese -wikipedia" and 7.3k for "Sino-Roman -wikipedia". Closer examination, however, shows every single S-R reference is on topic while almost none of the R-C references are. (And of the few that are, they're directly cribbing this article.) Google Books produces ~30 results for "Romano-Chinese" (mostly referring to people named Romano, medieval Rome, or cribbing Wikipedia) versus ~250 for "Sino-Roman" (on point). Google Scholar has 3 uses of "Romano-Chinese" from an Indian researcher, a Chinese researcher, and a blogger versus 36 scholarly, native-English uses of "Sino-Roman".

(As a side point, the same editor has also removed this much clearer Roman/Chinese map at least three times from three different editors on the idea that it "violates WP:NPOV" in an article about those two countries. It would be helpful if someone could convince him otherwise or somehow stop his repeated removal of the more helpful image.) [edit: Turns out the image has its own issues, albeit not those GPM was claiming.]  — LlywelynII 02:52, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Not that it's binding on the English wiki, but the Italian version of this page (which you'd think would have more reason to be persnickety about slights against l'imperio Romano) is at Relazioni diplomatiche sino-romane. — LlywelynII 06:51, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose per WP:NAMINGCRITERIA. The only two embassies which established a direct contact between Rome and China were sent by the Romans, the Chinese never returned any envoys. Therefore Romano-Chinese relations is the more adequate article name, because it puts the active force in the relationship first, not the passive, merely receiving one. According to the Oxford Dictionary "Romano" is a common form, defining it as "Roman; Roman and ...". The hyphenated forms Romano-British, Romano-Germanic and Romano-Gothic etc. are all used in WP, wherever the (more) active element is Roman.
PS: LlywelynII is a user who is entirely new to the article to which he has not contributed so far, but yet somehow thinks he needs to create the impression that he is already in the know about the topic and tries to bring an unnecessarily personal tone into it. I wasn't aware that the original notation in 2005 was BCE/CE, not BC/AD, so I support this change back to the original choice. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 15:17, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The current name fails NAMINGCRITERIA. In fact, it meets precisely none of the six criteria listed there, as documented above: it is unrecognizable, unnatural, &c. &c. As mentioned elsewhere, Romano-British does not mean "prominently Roman": it means a British person who has been Romanized: the equivalent would be a Chinese national living in Syria speaking Latin. And, ignoring that and my arguments, even on your own, the importance of Chinese sources on the (in any case, bilateral) relationship belies your point.
The ad homs are only going to work against you. You should have checked the page history prior to your edit. User:John Hill made you aware of the page's status the first time he reverted them. You simply ignored that later on. (And all the same, good that you're letting it alone now.) Beyond which, my history at this page has no bearing on any of the points made above, which you are simply continuing to ignore. — LlywelynII 15:55, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
That said, the page ownership is strong so I'll try to bring in some other voices so I don't shout myself hoarse and we can get a decent consensus. — LlywelynII 16:00, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
[rfc|hist|lang|style|policy rfcid=4D7D509 went here]
Could use some more feedback on this move request. — LlywelynII 16:03, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Look, Romano- is a common prefix for all kinds of things which establish a relationship between Romans and others. Your equivalent example is bizarre. As for your apparent inability to refrain from ad hominem, I do you a favour and ignore it. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 16:10, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm afraid I cannot see where anybody else has engaged in arg. ad hominem. AGK [•] 02:01, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong support Chinese-Roman relations. Romano is a cheese and Sino is unnecessary--both Roman and Chinese are fully recognizable which is one of our naming criteria. I am fully opposed to the Eurocentric current title (listing Rome first?? Why? We always put titles like this in alphabetical order) that made me think it was referring to the group of people often known as "gypsies" (see Romani people). I would never have guessed that "Romano" would refer to Romans, since we have the word Roman to refer to Romans. I also strongly oppose the proposed title as Sino is unnecessarily unrecognizable. Sure, I know what it means, but "Chinese" is clearer. And "Roman" would go before "Sino" anyway. Red Slash 16:50, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support per common name and nomination. Alternatively but to a lesser extend, support "China–Rome relations" per conventions in all the other diplomatic relations articles. --Cold Season (talk) 03:23, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:COMMONNAME. "Sino-" is one of the most widely used country-name prefix in English, while "Romano-" is confusing and rarely used. -Zanhe (talk) 03:52, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. If Sino-Roman relations is the term used in literature, it should be what's used here. The only context I have ever heard "Romano-" in is "Romano-British" which means something entirely different. SnowFire (talk) 17:58, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Sino-Roman. According to this Ngram, Romano-Chinese, Roman-Chinese, and Chinese-Roman are statistically insignificant usages. Keahapana (talk) 23:00, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
    Not that I don't agree with you for other reasons (see my searches above), but your ngram was rather badly formatted. See, e.g., this one. — LlywelynII 09:22, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
    Strings containing symbols other than letters must be included in parenthesis in Ngrams. Like this ¨walk victor falk talk 11:29, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
    Thank you. That had been bugging me for the longest time. Er, could you look at that again? I'm pretty sure what you're doing there isn't telling it to look for (e.g.) "Roman-Chinese" results. I'm pretty sure what you're actually telling the ngram to look for is how often (e.g.) "Roman" shows up and then to subtract those results from the "Chinese" results. Look at (e.g.) how your (Roman-Chinese) and (Chinese-Roman) results are direct inverses of one another. — LlywelynII 04:36, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Both Roman–Chinese relations and Roman–Sino relations are sensible enough, though the reader is more likely to search for the former term than the latter. Romano will be alien to most readers, and while it may (per GPM) be a prefix sometimes used in this sense, it is obviously nowhere near as common as the simpler Roman. The current article title isn't at all optimal, and both the proposed titles are better, in my view. I notice that similar articles about modern states use the nouns for titling, e.g. India–United Kingdom relations. Rome–China relations might avoid this whole argument, and have the added benefit of being the simplest form of all. AGK [•] 02:01, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
    • "Sino" is a prefix, so it would be switched in as in "Sino-Roman relations". If using nouns, it would be convention to alphabetize it as in "China–Rome relations". --Cold Season (talk) 03:23, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
      • <nerd=English>As CS points out, since "Sino-" is a prefix, it has to go first. Any combination of nouns or adjectives would use an en dash, not a hyphen: Roman–Chinese relations; Rome–China relations; Roman–Han relations...</nerd>

        It's not necessarily a bad idea but it's not an actual convention to alphabetize the two countries' names; did it become a Wikipedia policy at some point? — LlywelynII 08:13, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support per Google Books and Google Scholar data. Holdek (talk) 05:21, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Seems to be more common. I'm don't think "Sino" is too obscure - it's a pretty well-known term. Neljack (talk) 03:44, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Actually, I just noticed this. The map has an ongoing edit war over whether Korea counted as Han territory and it doesn't include Britain. I'll pull it myself, but we should replace it with something similarly focused once the borders are fixed. — LlywelynII 06:51, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

The problem with maps showing the political extension of the two empires is twofold:
  1. the Tarim basin was never incorporated into Han China's civil administration, but was only a military protectorate. Since 95% of the basin is anyway uninhabited desert, the question remains why huge stretches of this territory should be painted in a colour at all.
  2. The second issue is that any date chosen is bound to remain POV as the two empires peaked at different points in time. Therefore, a non-territorial Eurasian map is generally to be preferred. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 15:45, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Not at all. A clearly focused map on the two empires in question is to be preferred. That one just has a ton of issues. — LlywelynII 14:30, 7 December 2013 (UTC)


For what it's worth, his names were in Greek. Presumably, it was translated into Latin at some point in antiquity but we have no basis for suggesting how. What we've got is Byzantine Greek from earlier Greek; Arabic and Persian from Syriac from earlier Greek; and Renaissance Latin versions of the Byzantine Greek. I say just use English (Golden Chersonese or, better, Peninsula; Great Gulf; etc.) and let the linked pages go into details about the rest. — LlywelynII 15:23, 15 March 2015 (UTC)